Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. USA, 2014. Big Screen Productions, Bob Industries, Chernin Entertainment, Fox Searchlight Pictures, Ingenious Media, TSG Entertainment. Screenplay by Dennis Lehane, based on his short story Animal Rescue. Cinematography by Nicolas Karakatsanis. Produced by Peter Chernin, Dylan Clark, Mike Larocca. Music by Marco Beltrami, Raf Keunen. Production Design by Therese DePrez. Costume Design by David C. Robinson. Film Editing by Christopher Tellefsen. Toronto International Film Festival 2014.
James Gandolfini‘s Brooklyn bar is a quiet, out of the way joint that was purchased from him by Chechen mobsters who now use it as a central station for payment drops. Gandolfini still runs the place, assisted by his quiet, unassuming cousin (Tom Hardy) who sees everything and says nothing. Two events conspire to make these two nobodies in a shady world the centre of a violent storm: the bar is held up by masked thieves, and Hardy finds an adorable pitbull puppy in a garbage can, still alive but savagely beaten. After he cleans it up with the help of the woman (Noomi Rapace) upon whose property he found it, Hardy crosses paths with a psychologically unstable bully (Matthias Schoenaerts) who wants the dog back and wants trouble even more. A rich, intelligent screenplay by Dennis Lehane, adapting his own story Animal Rescue, weaves these various characters throughout and then ties them up perfectly for the explosive conclusion, brought to life beautifully by Michael R. Roskam’s sturdy direction, the atmospheric cinematography and a layered, fascinating performance by Hardy that only gets more intensely watchable with each passing scene.